and Christopher Dunn
The McIntosh Lady Chiefs prevailed 1-0 in an epic battle against the Cambridge Bears on Saturday. The road win on Cambridge’s artificial turf pitch propelled the Lady Chiefs to the Final Four.
Cambridge came out of the game with a very aggressive offensive attack. You could tell early on that McIntosh keeper Emily Lopez was going to have a busy day, but she did a masterful job of defending the Chief goal. Lopez had seven saves in the first half. The Chiefs also kept the Lady Bears busy as well, the first few minutes looking more like a chess match.
At the 20:57 mark, it was Caroline Laux with a laser shot to give McIntosh a 1-0 lead. Taylor Malasek made a breakaway move toward the goal and dished to Laux at the last second for the finish.
Cambridge tried to go on an aggressive offensive attack, but Lopez was able to prevail each time as McIntosh maintained at 1-0 lead at halftime.
The Chiefs looked more like themselves in the second half as they came out in attack mode. They practically lived on the Cambridge end of the field for the first ten minutes.
At the 26:00 mark, Cambridge attempted a breakaway, but again it was Lopez with another awesome save.
McIntosh had two corner shots between the 25:00 mark and the 23:00 mark, but they were not able to convert on either of them.
Cambridge tried to make an attack on goal at the 14:00 mark, but the Chiefs prevailed with a stop. The Lady Bears also had a penalty kick at the 13:45 mark, again McIntosh was able to foil the attempt.
The rest of the game, both teams were in full.attack mode. Each team pushed the ball at very intense level. Both teams would bend some, but no one would break. The action went coast-to-coast at fast pace and a super intense level, with McIntosh holding steady for the 1-0 victory.
Goalie Emily Lopez said, “I am really happy that we won. We deserved it. We have worked really hard all season. I am here for my team and my seniors. I love the game, and I did what I needed to do to help our team win.”
Senior Caroline Laux said, “It was a great win. It was by far the hottest game of the year. Our conditioning definitely made the difference. We used the frustration from giving away the game last year in the Elite Eight as a motivating force to make it to the Final Four this year.
Junior Taylor Malasek added, “I am happy that we won. It was really hot out there. We had to deal with the heat from the sun and the heat that is generated from the artificial turf. They tried to press us in the last ten minutes, but we were able to prevail.”
Coach Marcia Clark said, “It was a very intense game, probably the most intense game of the year. Northgate is going to be a tough game. We beat them during the season, but we won’t take anything for granted. Our girls are in playoff mode, and I think that we will do well.”
The Lady Chiefs host Northgate tonight in a Final Four matchup.
The Starr’s Mill Lady Panthers survived in every sense of the word with a 1-1 tie against North Atlanta on Friday afternoon in the AAAAA quarterfinals before advancing 4-2 on PKs.
From the beginning it was the Warriors who set the tone and dominated play. Possession and territory all belonged to a North Atlanta team that attacked from the first second. Dylan Patterson was flying around the back putting out fires with keeper Ashlyn Walloch called into service under severe pressure. She was up to the task with great positioning and carefully blunted several clear opportunities as the Warrior forwards sent several shots wide or over when put in.
The Panther forwards were starved for service as every ball forward seemed to be an emergency clear to relieve pressure which rarely found any friendly feet up front. On the few occasions they were able to gain clear possession, Lauren Yoss, Leslie Logan, and Riley Clark created a few chances but rarely looked a true threat. Katelyn LaRusso provided a spark in the midfield bringing energy and a tireless work rate to the match.
The Warriors continued to dominate and owned the air on all throws, corners, and free kicks, frustrating the Panthers consistently. However, it was Starr’s Mill who took the lead against the run of play with 15 minutes remaining in the first half when Logan fed Clark who fired home for the 1-0 lead. Rather than change fortune, the goal seemed to inspire North Atlanta and they were level within six minutes. The striker got free outside the box in front of the backline and slid the ball perfectly into the corner to draw the Warriors level as the teams went into the break.
The second half was more of the same with North Atlanta launching attack after attack and the Panthers struggling to keep the ball. The Warriors had multiple clean looks but either failed to find the frame or found Walloch snagging the ball out of the air. A corner played perfectly to the back post found Walloch expertly positioned and a brilliant opportunity was turned into a routine save.
In the last few minutes the Panthers were able to carve out their best chance with a breakaway tripped up by the turf with the opportunity gone wanting. As the teams headed to overtime it seemed only a matter of time until North Atlanta found the winner as they accumulated the lead in shots, chances, corners, and possession.
When it came down to it, however, Starr’s Mill dug deep and overtime was a completely different, balanced affair. The Panthers rose up to be counted and began to come to grips with the game. Half chances became clear chances and possession was maintained with more frequency. The first five ended with Starr’s Mill clearly in the ascendancy and in control but unable to dent the score board. In the second five minutes the Panthers were denied only by the flag as Logan found Yoss, who clipped the ball to Clark who squared for Logan to tap home only to be denied by the whistle and a close offsides call.
The teams’ fates would be decided by kicks from the spot. The Warrior keeper saved the first Panther attempt, but their shooter hit over the bar. Yoss, Logan, and Patterson each hit their spot kicks as North Atlanta hit two of their own. Walloch came up huge on the Warrior fourth attempt with a diving save leaving Clark to finish the unlikely success.
The PK advantage sends Starr’s Mill to the semifinals on Tuesday, May 10, where the Panthers will meet Columbus on the road after losing a coin flip to determine home field advantage.
A dynamic season from the Whitewater Lady Wildcats ended Friday night with a 3-1 loss to the St. Pius Golden Lions.
The loss stings now, but it doesn’t dampen all they have accomplished.
“These girls are amazing,” praised head coach Randy Hayes, whose squad boasted a 3.86 team GPA. The senior class alone made the playoffs three times with a state runner-up finish, a Final Four trip, and this trip to the quarterfinals. “These girls had the hardest schedule in the state (in AAAA per MaxPreps) and worked hard through some tough losses and great wins. I will miss them, but I am already looking to next year as we start to write the next chapter in Whitewater girls soccer.”
Against a relentless Golden Lion attack, Whitewater keeper Emma Fulton wowed. She kept her side in the match with a stunning 19 saves on the night.
After getting turned away numerous times, they broke through midway through the first half for a goal, the only of the opening half.
Just over two minutes into the second half, Whitewater answered. It was Haleigh Meuninck lofting a pass over the top of the defense and Jolie Ryff beating the keeper one-on-one to level the score.
Ten minutes later, the Golden Lions scored again to pull back in front. While the Wildcats kept pushing, they would allow an insurance goal with seven minutes to play.
The McIntosh boys saw their dreams of another state championship end Friday night with a 4-1 loss to the Riverwood Knights.
The win announces Riverwood’s arrival as a true title contender. In the previous round, they knocked out Dalton, a winner of three straight championships over two classifications and the only team who beat McIntosh during the regular season.
The Knights got on the board first, striking midway through the first half, but that would be the lone goal of the half.
Riverwood hit again 14 minutes into the second half, then added an insurance goal at the midway mark.
McIntosh tried to claw back, narrowing the margin to 3-1 on a Takuma Suzuki penalty kick ten minutes later, but the Knights padded their lead with a goal with two minutes to play.